The Green Glass Sea, Ellen Klages
I liked this book. I suspect most children will not even give it a chance. Certainly there is absolutely no way that we could get the kids at our library to read it. (Evidence: before I checked it out, the book had gone out once–to a different library, through ILL.) This a shame, because The Green Glass Sea is really great historical fiction.
This book takes place from 1944-1945 at Los Alamos. Dewey, our heroine, is terrific and mad likable, particularly if you are/were a nerdy kid yourself. She’s living there with her scientist father–her mother is not in the picture–and having a grand old time asking for advice on her inventions from–oh man, was that Richard Feynman? Nuh-uh.
So okay, I geeked out a little. So does Dewey. Sadly, her strange, very personal utopia falls apart when her father is sent to Washington and she is left to stay with the Gordons, whose not-so-charming progeny is one of Dewey’s tormentors at school. Through a number of big events, both personal and historical, Dewey and Suze learn to navigate their relationship and the strange world into which they’ve been thrown. The two girls and Mrs. Gordon are wonderfully crafted characters, and the way the book deals with war–and with the devastating weapon its adults are building–is honest, nuanced, mature. The last chapter, in particular, is astonishing. It’s really good, you should read it!
In short: Great historical fiction that’s probably too old for most kids who are Dewey’s age–throw it to the YAs and the more mature tweens. Good news: there’s a sequel.
Read it if you like: Historical fiction, particularly about World War II; strong female protagonists